A Confederate spy in love with a Union officer, her next decision will determine whether she lives or dies ~ Whipporwill by R.L. Bartram #historicalromance

July 9.2

Book title: Whippoorwill

Author: R.L. Bartram

Genre: Historical Romance

Published: Troubador Nov 28th, 2017

~ Blurb ~

Barely fourteen, Ceci Prejean is a tom boy running wild in the hot Louisiana summer. After breaking the nose of a local boy, her father decides to enlist the aid of Hecubah, a beautiful creole woman, with a secret past, who takes her in hand and turns her into a lady.

Now eighteen, Ceci meets and falls passionately in love with handsome young northerner, Trent Sinclaire. Trent is a cadet at the West Point military academy. He acts as if he knows Ceci. They begin a torrid affair, even as the southern states begin to secede from the Union.

Only weeks before their wedding the Confederate army attacks Fort Sumter and the civil war begins. Trent is called to active service in the north leaving Ceci heartbroken in the south.

Swearing vengeance on the Union, after the death of her family at the fall of New Orleans, Ceci meets with infamous spymaster, Henry Doucet. He initiates her into the shadowy world of espionage.

Infiltrating the White House, Ceci comes face to face with Abraham Lincoln, a man she’s sworn to kill. Forming a reckless alliance with the actor John Wilkes Booth, she is drawn deeper into the plot to assassinate the President of the United States. A Confederate spy in love with a Union officer, he next decision will determine whether she lives or dies.

Grab a copy!

 Amazon ~ Troubador

 ~ Excerpt ~

Trent was lucky. The Confederate musket ball that was intended to kill him merely grazed his brow. He lurched violently back in his saddle. His horse reared wildly, throwing him, unconscious to the ground, directly into the path of his own cavalry advancing only yards behind him.

At the far end of the field, Sergeant Nathanial Pike and his men, engaged in the hasty formation of a skirmish line, watched helplessly as the scene unfolded. As Trent hit the ground, a Confederate soldier appeared out of the shadows. Small and slight, little more than a boy, he lunged forwards, grabbed the officer by the lapels of his coat and dragged him out of the path of the galloping horses. Throwing himself across the man’s prone body, he shielded him from the pounding hooves. The cavalry thundered past oblivious, in the half-light, to the fate of their captain.

As the danger passed, the rebel rose to his knees and appeared to search the unconscious man.

“God damn thieving rebs,” Pike snatched his pistol from its holster, his thumb wrenching back the hammer. Before he could take aim, the rebel stopped searching. He leaned forwards and, cradling the officer’s face in his hands, bent down and kissed him, full on the lips, long and hard. Pike’s pistol, arm and jaw dropped simultaneously.

Something, some noise, some movement, made the rebel look up and glance furtively around. He jumped to his feet and, with a final backwards glance at the fallen man, melted into the shadows, like a wraith.

It was some moments before Pike’s jaw snapped shut, his teeth meeting with an audible click. He rounded on his men. “Did you see what I just saw?” he demanded.

His question was answered with shrugs and scowls. Not one man there could swear he hadn’t dreamed it. Then suddenly, they heard it, far off, plaintive and eerie, the cry of a whippoorwill.

~ About the Author ~

July 9.1

With historical romance as his preferred genre, Robert has continued to write for several years. Many of his short stories have appeared in various national periodicals and magazines.

His debut novel “Dance the Moon Down”, a story of love against adversity during the First World War, gained him considerable critical praise, being voted book of the month by “Wall to Wall Books”.

His second novel “Whippoorwill” tells of a passionate affair between a young southern woman and a northern man at the beginning of the American Civil War.

He is single and lives and works in Hertfordshire.




My review of Less, the 2018 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction #MondayBlogs #PulitzerPrize #PulitzerPrizeChallenge #AmReading #BookReview

less reviewI’m back from my vacation (boo!) during which I managed to read two Pulitzer Prize winning novels (Less and The Road). Long flights are ideal reading time – at least to me – the hubby likes to watch movie after movie unless he’s wrapped up like a mummy sleeping. I finished Less on my flight to the U.S. Although I’ve had nearly three weeks to think about this review, I’m still unsure about how I would rate the novel.

Less is a difficult novel for me to review as I’d never have picked this novel up if it weren’t for my Pulitzer Prize Challenge. The description didn’t interest me much. Here’s the blurb direct from Amazon:

Less blurb

As a woman approaching fifty at the speed of light and a writer who has yet to meet success, I’m not interested in reading about someone else having the same sort of problems I am. Frankly, it sounds rather depressing. But reviewers better than myself have promised I’ll find the novel ‘bedazzling’, ‘hilarious’, ‘unexpectedly funny’, and all other sorts of glowing descriptions. While I didn’t hate Less, I certainly wasn’t bedazzled.

Let’s start with Arthur Less himself. I don’t dislike Less, but I can’t say I liked him either, because it feels as if there’s nothing there. He’s just bumbling around as if he doesn’t know his own mind. Somehow, amidst this bumbling, he always lands in someone’s bed. It doesn’t appear as if he needs to make any efforts whatsoever to find a bed buddy. This typifies Arthur’s character. He doesn’t actually plan anything, and somehow just ends up in a different place. For someone who sets an alarm to make sure she’s never late for an appointment, Less was a baffling man.

My sense of humor may need an update as well, as I didn’t find the novel hilarious or funny. There were a few scenes when he was in Berlin, which did cause me to snicker a bit. I enjoyed the witty remarks about Arthur’s proficiency in German (spoiler alert: he wasn’t proficient at all). My most common response to the novel was not a snicker but a sigh as Less found himself in another unexpected but somehow predictable situation. *Sigh*

My biggest issue with the novel was the point of view. It was rather disruptive. At times, the narrator would tell us insights about Less, and then the narrator would disappear for a few chapters – only to reappear when I’d forgotten about him. I found it annoying. We don’t learn who the narrator is until the end of the novel (although it’s not exactly a surprise).

At some point, I did find myself reading faster and faster as I needed Less’s situation to be resolved. He couldn’t continue to flounce around the world forever! He couldn’t re-write his novel until the end of time! Luckily, Less is resolved at the end with a neat little bow.

Next week, I’ll be reviewing The Road from Cormac McCarthy.


The Dutch response to non-Dutch speaking Dutch ~ Thoughts on Less from Andrew Sean Greer #MondayBlogs #PulitzerPrizeChallenge #PulitzerPrize #amreading

less book coverI was still stuck in editing hell last week and didn’t have much time for reading. Oh, the horror! As we’re leaving on vacation soon, I did make time for a hair appointment and pedicure. Priorities! Luckily, my hair takes several hours to color (I went with bright, red highlights), which gave me at least some time I had to read last week.

Although I’ve found Less a bit difficult to dive into, I enjoyed the segment I read last week while Less was in Germany. Arthur Less thinks he’s fluent in German. He’s not. But he must be hilarious to listen to. The jokes Greer shared with us were hilarious, especially for someone like me who speaks German (hopefully, better than Less does!). The Germans Less encountered were very tolerant of his language skills. In fact, only as a sort of epilogue did anyone even mention his language skills (or lack thereof). This, of course, reminded me of speaking Dutch in The Netherlands.

board-64269_1920The Dutch, unlike the Germans in Greer’s book, have no compunction about correcting the Dutch of non-native speakers. One the one hand, they are super excited if someone tries to speak their language. But, on the other hand, they actually discourage this by switching to English and brutally correcting mistakes. Most foreigners I know don’t bother to learn Dutch. “Why bother,” they say. “Everyone speaks English anyway.”

This reminded me of a story. Several years ago, I was working in Amsterdam. The city was overrun by tourists as the European Cup was jointly hosted that year by The Netherlands and Belgium. I worked in the center (on the Prinsengracht, if you must know). One day, I headed to the bakery to get a sandwich for lunch. A horde of English tourists left the store as I was entering. When I walked in, the workers immediately began to complain about the tourists to me – the Foreigner! It was at that moment I knew my Dutch was up to snuff.

We’re off on two weeks of vacation tomorrow. I have Less packed in my carry-on baggage and plan to finish the novel on the plane ride. That’s assuming I don’t become obsessed with the movies. It’s a concern.

See y’all in three weeks!

On Vacation 2

My #bookreview of Secrets of Greenoak Woods from Brenda Jane Davies


Title: Secret of Greenoak Woods

Author: Brenda Jane Davies

Genre: Historical Romance

Published: November 9, 2016

~ Blurb ~

1816 Cornwall
Benjamin is a young farm labourer, a reticent man living a solitary life. Tormented by a childhood trauma he is misunderstood and scorned by the villagers of St. Merryn, including Mary the woman he loves. His desire for Mary is tearing him apart because she loves Samuel – a man he hates.

Passionate and vital, farmers daughter Mary will never break the promise made to her dying mother, to always protect her younger sister. But a series of dreadful events leave the sisters with a dark secret that will deliver them straight to the gallows if discovered.
Benjamin finds the courage to offer Mary the protection she needs, but how far will she go to keep her secret safe? His battle with Samuel for her affections have tragic consequences and everybody’s secrets and betrayals – not just Mary’s – are laid bare.
Set against the untamed splendour of the Cornish coast and timeless rhythm of farming life is a story of love, loss and dark secrets.

Grab a copy!


~ My Review ~

This novel was tough to dive into. It was a slow starter, and there were so many characters. How did they all connect? The formatting was wonky, and someone had a love for the overuse of commas. And the dialogue! What were they saying? Frankly, if I hadn’t committed myself to reviewing this novel, I may not have continued. I’m glad I did. At some point, I found myself quickly flipping through the pages, knowing that all the secrets were going to collide, and absolutely desperate to watch the explosion and find out the aftermath.

I liked Mary okay when the novel started, but I sincerely started to hate her when she got together with Benjamin who I’m secretly in love with. Benjamin was strange, but I don’t care, because he was loving and sweet and kind and caring. *Swoon*

Although the ‘big reveal’ was somewhat obvious, I didn’t mind because the reveal wasn’t everything. What the characters decided to do with the information? Now, that was the crux of the story.

Once I got into this story, I enjoyed it immensely. I recommend it to lovers of historical romance.

*I received a free copy of this novel in return for my honest review*

~ About the Author ~


I live in Bristol, England with my husband and I combined my love of Cornwall and its history with my love of geneology to write my first novel based on the true story of my great great grandfather James Ivey.

I didn’t want that novel to be my last. My second book is fiction but is still historical since I love imagining what it was like to live in the 1800s. I hope my writing skills and storytelling have improved.
I would love anyone who reads my books to let me know what they think since without reviews I have no idea if anyone is enjoying them or not.

Visit her blog at http://brendadavies.blogspot.co.uk


Splash into Summer $250 Cash #Giveaway

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My review of The Sympathizer, the 2016 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction #MondayBlogs #PulitzerPrize #PulitzerPrizeChallenge #AmReading #BookReview

the sympathizer 1Today, the 2016 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, The Sympathizer, takes center stage in my Pulitzer Prize Challenge. I purchased this novel after our trip to Vietnam, and I devoured it. The Guardian reviewer claimed: “The Sympathizer reminded me of how big books can be.” I wholeheartedly agree.

I remember the first training exercise (after basic and AIT) in which I participated. It was confusing as all get out. It was nearly impossible to figure out who was friend and foe. I grew up on stories of World War II in which the different sides were painted in such a way that it seemed obvious who was who. And if all else fails, you can judge a person based on their language. German? Bad guy. French? Good guy (for the most part). But what about a civil war? How do you tell good guy from bad buy then?

The Sympathizer explores this issue in depth. The starting lines tell the reader:

I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces. Perhaps not surprisingly, I am also a man of two minds.

From that point on, we follow the narrator through the war in Vietnam and to the shores of California; always wondering on which side he will fall. We learn a valuable lesson through our reading. Good and bad are not black and white, but rather shades of grey. The good guys can do very bad things, and the bad guys can do good things.

As a child of the Vietnam war era (my godfather is a Vietnam vet) and a student of history, I thought I understood the Vietnam war. But there are so many angles to this conflict that American students miss in our high school history classes. Those angles were forced, loud and clear, into our faces when we visited the war museum in Saigon, where the war is termed “The American War of Aggression”. Viet Thanh Nguyen introduces the nuances to the war in a language we can understand without being confrontational.

The Sympathizer is superbly written. The kind of book that forces a reader to stop and re-read a paragraph just to enjoy the language. It is also a surprisingly easy read for a 500-page literary novel. While I’ve grown tired of the use of first person, it not only works here but is essential to understand the nuances of the identity crisis a Vietnamese army captain undergoes.

Like all great novels, The Sympathizer has it all: love, friendship, and espionage as well as historical lessons from which we could learn. I highly recommend this novel!

sympathizer 3

Update: My copy of Less, the 2018 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction arrived Saturday (two weeks early!), and I’ve already dove in. I’m not promising I’ll have a review for you next week, but I’ll at least have some observations.

sympathizer 2


Apparently, life doesn’t end when you get married. All hell can break loose at any time. #BookReview of Frozen #fantasy by @ChristineAmsden


Title: Frozen

Series: Cassie Scot Book Seven

Author: Christine Amsden

Genre: Fantasy

Published: April 10, 2018 Print Release: July 15, 2018

~ Blurb ~

Apparently, life doesn’t end when you get married.

When a couple freezes to death on a fifty degree day, Cassie is called in to investigate. The couple ran a daycare out of their home, making preschoolers the key witnesses and even the prime suspects.

Two of those preschoolers are Cassie’s youngest siblings, suggesting conditions at home are worse than she feared. As Cassie struggles to care for her family, she must face the truth about her mother’s slide into depression, which seems to be taking the entire town with it.

Then Cassie, too, is attacked by the supernatural cold. She has to think fast to survive, and her actions cause a rift between her and her husband.

No, life doesn’t end after marriage. All hell can break loose at any time.

~ Grab a copy! ~

Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble

~ Excerpt ~

That’s when I saw it – the thing that had scared Evan. It was … a dog, maybe? But massive. As black as night. And with red, glowing eyes. If it weren’t for the eyes, I might have mistaken it for a werewolf. Well, that, and the fact that the moon hadn’t risen. Wolves didn’t turn when the sun went down, only when the moon rose. It wasn’t even the full moon; I would never have left Ana with Scott if it were.

The monstrous thing lunged for Jim, a thirty-something man in very good shape who couldn’t seem to outrun it. It tore at the backs of his legs, drawing blood and sending Jim sprawling to the ground on hands and knees.

I couldn’t move, and not because Evan’s power still held me. That thing was about two seconds from eating Jim, a man I happened to like and who I knew had a wife and two kids at home.

A strangled yell emerged from Jim’s throat. Guns blazed – I hadn’t even noticed Frank and Sheriff Adams drawing their weapons. The beast growled, momentarily losing interest in Jim as it fixed those demon eyes on the two men trying to fill it with lead.

Then, suddenly, it was in the air, flying backwards through the trees and out of sight.

The guns went quiet but the sheriff and his deputy continued to run toward their fallen comrade. Evan stood stock still, staring into the woods, arms raised and waiting. Listening.

Suddenly, the sound of a canine howling filled the air.

“Move!” Evan shouted. “It’s coming back!”

~ Review ~

I loved the Cassie Scot series, so when the author asked me to read and provide an honest review of Frozen, I couldn’t wait! I was apprehensive about the read, however, when Cassie started the novel out by talking about the story after the happily ever after. Personally, I read fantasy because I want to escape reality. I don’t want to read about things not working out after the HEA. My fears for Frozen were unfounded. It’s a great read with an interesting story that will keep you turning the pages trying to figure out what Cassie is missing.

Cassie is my hero. She’s strong and stubborn – two qualities I admire greatly. No, she’s not perfect, but who wants to be perfect? Evan, on the other hand, bugged me during the entire novel. His lack of compassion and understanding made me want to jump into the novel and tell him off no matter how much magic he has!

I enjoyed the mystery of the story as well. It certainly seems like the start of a new series, although the author denies that in her notes. Hmmm… No matter, I’ll be over here waiting for the next installment. *taps foot impatiently*

~ About the Author ~

author pic

Christine Amsden has been writing fantasy and science fiction for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and relationships, and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.

At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, which scars the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams.

Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. In addition to being a writer, she’s a mom and freelance editor.

~ Stalk the author! ~

 Website  ~ Newsletter ~ Blog ~ Facebook ~  Twitter ~ Goodreads ~ Google+

The Cassie Scot Series

Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective (Cassie Scot Book One)

Secrets and Lies (Cassie Scot Book Two)

Mind Games (Cassie Scot Book 3)

Stolen Dreams (Cassie Scot Book 4)

Madison’s Song (Cassie Scot Book 5)

Kaitlin’s Tale (Cassie Scot Book 6)